Thursday, January 27, 2011

Catching Up!!-and The Big Year= Fail

Ok, I know it's been way too long since my last post! So much has happened since I last posted a little over 3 months ago,that it's tough to know where to start. Well, I won't try to get caught up completely in one post,but maybe I'll take a couple of posts to try to do that. I'll dedicate this post to some discussion of my big year,since I've gotten some questions about that recently,then I'll move on to a bit of a review of the 2010 birding year in Newfoundland.

So, the big year. I started off with such vigour,chasing every bird I could and cleaning up on all the winter specialties. By the third week of January I had already ticked Northern Lapwing, Redwing, Hoary Redpoll, Gyrfalcon, Snowy Owl and Ivory Gull, a nice start!

From there we move to spring,which was greeting by a Pink-footed Goose, a major surprise. This was also a decent year for European Golden Plover. I personally had my biggest total for this species this spring,mainly due to a flock of 22 on the Cape Race Rd in May.

The next big birding event for me was my annual Codroy Valley trip. The trip was excellent as usual. There were lots of Blackburnian, bay-breast and Cape May Warblers. As well, we found 5 singing Chestnut-sided Warblers and all were still on territory when we left in mid June,indicating that this species is following the route of Northen Parula and is now becoming established in the Codroy Valley.

After the Codroy Valley the big year lost some steam, I lost motivation. The summer months,especially June is the best time in Newfoundland to see big numbers of seabirds from land,especially Shearwaters and Jaegers.I never birded much during these months,but wasn't worried because I figured I'd pick them up in the fall- boy was I wrong. As a result I missed Great Shearwater for the first time ever on a year list,since I started birding. I also failed to see any Jaegers!! Combine this with the fat that I never made an effort to See Wilson's Storm Petrel, Northern Hawk Owl,Spruce grouse, Rock Ptarmigan or Three-toed Woodpecker and I decided the big year just wasn't gonna happen.

Well fast forward to late fall. It was good fall for warblers. I managed to catch up to a number of southern strays including two Kentucky Warblers and finally a caught a quick glimpse of a Worm-eating Warbler in early October. Going into the December I was sitting about 240 species. I picked up a few more random species,not the least of which was a Black-tailed Gull I found on December 1st to end the year at a respectable 243 species.

The Newfoundland record big year of 247 species was certainly within reach and so was my goal of 250. In fact if one went full speed all year long,chased every possible vagrant and ticked all the breeders, I think 260 is an attainable number.but that will have to wait for another year. After two consecutive years of Newfoundland year listing, I'm taking a year off.

At some point in the near future I'd like to write a blog dedicated to all the best birds of 2010. Before I can do that I've got to get permission to use some photos. Also, I'm going to be starting to post identification articles on a regular basis, or at least that's the plan. So, that's it, I'm back, look for the Rare Bird's of 2010 post later this week.